WASHINGTON - The White House on Saturday condemned former president Donald Trump for meeting at his Florida estate with a renowned white supremacist and with rapper Kanye West who is embroiled in a storm over anti-Semitic remarks.
Mr Trump acknowledged having dinner with Mr West, who now is known as Ye, on Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago, and said he brought along friends, one of whom was Mr Nick Fuentes, an outspoken anti-Semite and racist.
“I didn’t know Nick Fuentes,” Mr Trump posted on his Truth Social account late on Friday.
White House deputy press secretary Andrews Bates condemned Mr Trump’s meeting with Mr Fuentes.
“Bigotry, hate, and anti-Semitism have absolutely no place in America – including at Mar-a-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned,” Mr Bates told CNN.
President Joe Biden, who is spending the holiday weekend in Nantucket, ducked a question about Mr Trump’s dinner: “You don’t wanna hear what I think.”
Mr Fuentes is a Holocaust denier whose YouTube channel was permanently suspended in early 2020 for violating the platform’s hate speech policy.
Mr Trump announced his plans in mid-November to seek reelection in 2024, and his embrace of a white nationalist unsettled some of his onetime administration officials.
Mr David Friedman, who was Mr Trump’s former ambassador to Israel, blasted the dinner at Mar-a-Lago.
“Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Mr Friedman said in one of several tweets.
“Antisemites deserve no quarter among American leaders, right or left,” he said.
Axios, a news website, cited what it said was a source familiar with the dinner who said Mr Trump “seemed very taken” with Mr Fuentes even though he didn’t seem to know anything about his background.
Mr West, who is now known legally as Ye, has lost major brand partnerships with the German sportwear company Adidas and US retailer Gap over recent anti-Semitic statements and associations with extremists. AFP